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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FREE 15 MIN PARKING AT SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL

Sydney Airport has announced that a free 0 -15 minutes time band has been introduced at the International Terminal’s car park.

This is a significant change as previously vehicles which used the car park for less than 15 minutes paid the 0 - 30-minute rate of $7.

While the free 0 – 15 minutes time band has been introduced, there is:

* No change to arrangements for dropping passengers off on the Departures Roadway
* No change to the prohibition of pick-ups on the Departures Roadway or the Arrivals Court Road
* No change to the parking fees for other daily time bands at the International Terminal
* No change to the fees or arrangements that apply at the Domestic Multi-Storey Car Park
* No change to other ground transport fees for taxis and shuttle buses

“Along with the recent upgrades to the International Terminal, this is going to improve the experience for travellers at Sydney Airport,” said Rod Gilmour, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Planning and Human Resources at Sydney Airport.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MANTRA GROUP WARNS CONSUMERS AS ANOTHER ONLINE OPERATOR GOES BUST

One of Australia's leading accommodation providers Mantra Group has warned consumers they risked losing their hard-earned money and holiday experiences by booking accommodation online through unlicensed operators.
 
Today liquidators were appointed to another online company, Accommodation 1, operated by Flatworld Trading Pty Ltd, who sold holiday accommodation on the Gold Coast.  Holidaymakers with holidays booked from May 19onwards have been left high and dry.  The company accepted bookings through a website called www.ourholiday.com.au.

This follows the voluntary liquidation of another operator Tailly Pty Ltd being placed in voluntary liquidation two months ago, leaving more than 260 consumers out of pocket to the tune of approximately $300,000.

Mantra Group which operates as an official onsite accommodation manager and letting agent in many of the buildings where Flatworld sold rooms is extending a lifeline to guests who have been left in the lurch by offering a discount of up to 25% on their best available room rate at either the building they booked with Accommodation 1 or at others in their Gold Coast portfolio.

Mantra Group General Manager of Distribution Luke Jamieson says this is an unfortunate reminder to consumers to make sure they are booking through legitimate and official channels.

"Consumers using faceless website operators have no way of knowing the financial circumstances or capabilities of the company and are putting their hard-earned money and holiday experiences at risk by using them," he said.

"If you have any concerns over the legitimacy of the booking, you should contact the property directly to confirm details," Mr Jamieson.


About Mantra Group

Mantra Group is a leading Australian-based manager and marketer of hotels and resorts in Australia and New Zealand. The Group owns and operates three well-known and trusted brands – Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree.

With 15,000 rooms under management, Mantra Group is the second largest accommodation operator within Australia. The Group is positioned to offer accommodation ranging from self-contained apartments to luxurious resorts and retreats. The Group's properties are located in across major tourism destinations in Victoria, Tasmania, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, regional New South Wales, all Australian capital cities and throughout New Zealand.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

French tourist strips on Uluru

AAP

A French tourist who strip-danced on top of Uluru says she was paying tribute to indigenous culture.

Alizee Sery, 25, who was filmed performing the raunchy act on the World Heritage-listed rock in the Northern Territory, said it had been a life-long dream to visit the site.

"So, if I do it, I have to do it in a way I am going to remember," she told the Sunday Territorian.

"I do not mean in anyway to offend the Aboriginal culture.

"What I did is a tribute to their culture in a way.

"It's entertaining but also ... I did it as a tribute to the way it used to be, how they were living naked back in the days, so I am doing a return to the land."

In the video, which has made its way onto the internet, Ms Sery is seen stripping down nothing more than her underwear, boots and a cowboy hat.

The exotic dancer said "it was the perfect way to be up there".

"In totally harmony with the land and with myself," she said.

"It was a great feeling inside."

Aboriginal elders are outraged and are calling for her deportation, the ABC reported.

Uluru is a major tourist drawcard and while visitors are asked not to climb it, some 100,000 people take up the challenge each year.

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management last year called for the climb to be closed out of respect for the indigenous owners and for safety reasons, along with concerns about visitors littering and using the rock as a toilet.

Tourist boats collide in Thailand, 42 injured

BANGKOK — Forty-two people were injured after two boats carrying Thai and foreign tourists collided in the Gulf of Thailand near an island famed for its wild parties, police said Sunday.

The boats were ferrying tourists to and from Pha-ngan island, site of "full moon" parties that attract thousands of young, mostly Western tourists each month.

Police Lt. Pongkajorn Sukrasang said the boats collided and overturned around midnight Saturday, throwing the passengers into the rough sea during a rainstorm just off the island.

Two Thai brothers were listed as missing but were reportedly sighted later on the island, Pongkajorn said. Thirteen of the injured remained hospitalized Sunday afternoon, he said.

The passengers included tourists from Britain, Australia, Singapore, Ireland, Norway and Malaysia, he said.

"They're lucky because all were wearing lifesaving vests. Most of the injuries were minor," the police officer said.

The monthly parties on the island, 670 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Bangkok, are rave-type gatherings fueled by drugs and alcohol and have become associated with crimes such as rape and theft because of their freewheeling atmosphere.

Police said the accident had little effect on the party. A number of apparently drunk foreigners were lying on the beach Sunday morning near where the boats had collided.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 25, 2010

SMALL LUXURY HOTELS OF THE WORLD BRAND DEMONSTRATES SOLID PERFORMANCE IN FIRST HALF OF 2010

Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which recently opened its Asia Pacific Regional Office in Singapore, has seen strong positive growth in the first half of 2010. Indicators of success include an increase in reservations of 16 per cent year to date compared to the same period last year, an increase in revenue of 14 per cent and the addition of over 30 hotels since September 2009 which means the brand’s portfolio now exceeds 500 properties worldwide.

The upward trend across all areas of business is reflected in positive feedback from members of The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Over 7,000 Club members have already responded to a survey which is currently underway.  The research, which is being conducted by the brand and coordinated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, was designed to give a snapshot of consumer sentiment and to gain insights into travel behaviour patterns following the recent economic downturn.  Initial findings* indicate that average disposable incomes will increase this year with one in three Club members who responded to the survey saying that they expect to be better off in 2010 than last year.  Corporate travel looks set to pick up again this year with 23 per cent of respondents anticipating an increase in business travel and for leisure, more short breaks are planned over the next 12 months. When asked about researching hotels, over 80 per cent of Club members use the Small Luxury Hotels of the World website www.slh.com over any other method.
Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, said: “We have always maintained that discerning travellers will never compromise on luxury. Whilst we have seen a shift in behaviour over the past 24 months, current travel patterns indicate that consumer confidence is returning and we are seeing encouraging numbers of advance bookings.  What has been interesting is that demand from hotels wanting to join the brand has never been higher throughout this period. It is during difficult economic times that the benefits of being part of a brand like Small Luxury Hotels of the World become increasingly evident. We have continued to innovate with new initiatives like mobile marketing to add value for our loyal guests and for hotels which are part of the brand.”
Small Luxury Hotels of the World now offers guests a choice of over 500 hotels in more than 70 countries worldwide but, despite this recent growth, it has maintained a strict standard of excellence. Before being accepted into the brand, each property has to demonstrate that they are the best of the best hotels in their area and then each hotel undergoes a rigorous inspection process before being personally approved by Paul Kerr and the Board of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Properties are then inspected by mystery guests at least once every two years to ensure standards are consistently maintained.
Since it was established in 1991, Small Luxury Hotels of the World has gone from strength to strength with the number of rooms across the brand increasing from under 5,000 in the first year to over 25,000 today.  One of the brand’s attributes is the diversity of properties in its portfolio.  Nearly 40 per cent its properties are city centre sanctuaries, just over 33 per cent are resorts and 30 per cent are country houses.  The average number of rooms at each property has decreased from 65 in 1991 to 50 in 2010 which is testament to the fact that, despite the steady growth and extended global reach, the brand is focused on its original proposition of offering unique, intimate hotels and highly personalised service. 
The luxury hotel brand has added over 30 properties in the first half of the year including hotels in new destinations such as Megève, Monte Carlo, Split, Rioja, Pamplona, Acapulco, Belize and the Netherland Antilles. The brand has expanded its portfolio in the Asia Pacific region where its portfolio now stands at 112. New additions to the brand include two hotels in India, three island resorts in Malaysia, a harbourfront hotel in Japan, three new city centre hotels in Bangkok and two properties in China. Recent additions in the Americas boost the brand’s regional portfolio there to approximately 90 properties and the brand includes over 300 hotels across Europe. The brand’s presence in Central and South America has doubled over the past year. (See below for a full list of properties added in 2010).
Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties offer a diverse range of experiences – from the cultural to the adventurous to the indulgent – and the latest additions to the brand are no exception. Formula One enthusiasts can now enjoy views of the Grand Prix track in Monaco from Port Palace, Film Festival junkies can escape from the action at Le Grand Hotel Cannes on the Croisette and thrill seekers can join the ‘running of the bulls’ festival in Pamplona every July.
As well as offering greater choice and diversity than ever before, Small Luxury Hotels of the World has continued to roll out initiatives to add value for loyal guests. Global marketing programmes including Ski, Beach Escapes, Country Retreats, Golf, Spa and Honeymoon have generated over $8million in revenue for hotels in the brand over the past 12 months. The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World was recently re-launched to offer members added benefits including a complimentary room upgrade at check-in, continental breakfast and late check-out.  
To support key source markets around the world Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s website, www.slh.com, is now available in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Spanish and Russian. Multi-lingual reservations agents are also on hand to help with bookings and enquiries via the brand’s toll free reservation numbers. For a full list of toll free numbers go to www.slh.com/reservationnumbers.html
The brand continues to maintain its position as a leader in technological innovation in the hotel industry. As well as its award-winning website, www.slh.com, Small Luxury Hotels of the World launched its first iPhone app in February 2010. The app is free to download from iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/small-luxury-hotels-world/id359024705?mt=8. Nearly 21,000 travellers around the world have downloaded the app since its launch four months ago. Travellers can ‘Discover, Share and Enjoy’ all of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties using the app. The brand has a strong presence on social media networks with nearly 10,000 fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/smallluxuryhotelsofheworld) and over 1,500 followers on Twitter (www.twitter.com/slhluxuryhotels).   
Key appointments in 2010 to date include Mark Wong as Area Director and Brandon Chan as Director of Sales for the Asia Pacific region, Carsten Lima, Director of Sales EMEA, Carmen Munguia, Partnership Marketing Manager EMEA, Helen Argent, Marketing Communications Manager, Carla Severn, Cluster Marketing Manager, Kurt Allen, Head of Online and Ande Lund, Partnership Marketing Manager for the Americas.
Reservations at any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property can be made by calling +65 6232 5060 www.slh.com or via the new iPhone app.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Air India to launch Melbourne-Delhi

Air India will launch daily direct services between Melbourne and Delhi from November 1.

Melbourne airport chief executive Chris Woodruff described the development as “exceptional news” for the state.

More in Travel Today later.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Survey reveals that OPD is the most common symptom of PFT


A survey into the patterns and levels of anxiety that travellers experience prior to flying has identified that one (1) in four (4) Australian travellers suffer from varying degrees of stress – bringing to light a new term coined to describe their experience as ‘pre-flight tension’, or ‘PFT’.

The research was conducted by Sydney Airport to obtain an insight into the mindset, concerns and behaviors of travellers.

In some surprise findings from the survey, it was revealed that the most common sufferers of PFT were those who travel more frequently, three to four (3-4) times a year, as opposed to occasional travellers. One in four people experienced anxiety on the day of their flight, one in five of those begin to feel anxious up to an entire week before flying. Both men and women suffer from PFT, the majority of which (36%) are 25 to 29 years old.

The survey revealed several quirky and humorous “symptoms” of PFT, including the newly coined “Obsessive Passport Disorder” (OPD) which is characterised by constantly checking for passports and other important travel documents. Others believed PFT contributed to lapses in concentration with some amusing outcomes.

Prior to leaving for the airport PFT causes around 38% of travellers to repack their bags up to three times prior to leaving for the airport. One woman reportedly ended up paying a $90 excess luggage charge yet admitted to not even wearing 90% of the clothing she had packed; while another couple who were travelling to attend a formal occasion forgot their formal clothing altogether.

However, wardrobe malfunctions were not restricted to packing with several respondents reporting more severe cases of PFT arriving at the airport in their pyjamas, slippers and even wearing no shoes at all.

On the day of the flight OPD (‘Obsessive Passport Disorder’) is one of the most common symptoms with 41% admitting to checking for their passport at least 2 or 3 times prior to flying.

Even more travellers, around 55%, begin checking and re-checking flight times constantly before departure. Ironically, however, many admitted to being so obsessed with the flight time, they actually turned up to the airport on the wrong day. In one of the more extreme cases, a woman who inadvertently arrived at the airport a day early, decided to sleep there overnight rather than risk being late the following day.

Sixty-one percent (61%) agreed that one of their greatest concerns was getting to the airport on time with many respondents reporting stressful experiences with taxis and other transport including being late, getting lost, having accidents, breaking down and even going to the wrong terminal.

For many the journey to the airport is a challenge with 48% thinking that they had forgotten to pack something and 26% worrying that they had forgotten something like leaving a window open, leaving on an iron or locking the family pet inside.

Several actually claimed they had become so stressed that they had actually forgotten to take their luggage and in more extreme cases, left family members and other travelling companions behind! One man confessed that it wasn’t until he was almost at the airport that he realised he had forgotten his wife.

Sydney Airport have recently completed a $500 million upgrade at the International Terminal which was officially launched last week, and is hoping that its new Departures precinct will provide a haven for travellers to de-stress ahead of their flight.

For those that have not had time to do all the travel essentials, offerings such as multi-currency cash machines will allow them to quickly organise cash for their journey, while those that have not had time to eat will be able to dine in style at one of the dozens of new cafés, bars and restaurants.

For those that find relaxation in retail therapy, Sydney Airport has also recently opened the doors of the biggest Tax and Duty Free store in the Southern Hemisphere as well as an array of other retail outlets ranging from high end fashion to the world’s first dedicated Wiggles and Lonely Planet stores and Australia’s first Victoria’s Secret store.

For more information on PFT, and some advice on how to ease it, visit easepft.com.au.

NB: The survey was conducted for Sydney Airport by OMD Insights with a sample of 300 men and women aged between 18 and 59 in NSW using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New travel product in Helsinki - Food Sightseeing


The guided restaurant tour Food Sightseeing combines eating and visiting a city in a memorable way. Participants are introduced to the history of the city and essential sights by foot or by tram on two different sightseeing tours. In addition to seeing the sights, visitors discover Finnish gastronomy and local dishes. Tours are available for both individual travellers and groups during the summer months, 1 June – 28 August 2010 from Monday to Saturday.
Product Description:
"Tastes of Finland": Departure in front of Tourist Information (Pohjoisesplanadi 19) at 2 pm. Historical stories of the Esplanade Park, Market Square and Senate Square, exploring architecture in Aleksanterinkatu, Finnish Design shops' souvenir hints (from 2 pm to 3 pm). The tour ends at the restaurant Lasipalatsi, where participants are served a Tastes of Finland platter with stories of Lasipalatsi's history (from 3 pm to 4 pm). Length 2 hrs.
"Food Sightseeing": Departure in front of Tourist Information (Pohjoisesplanadi 19) at 7 pm. Historical stories of the Esplanade Park, Market Square and Senate Square. Travel by tram no 6 to Hakaniemi (10 minutes from city centre), stories of the Kallio district, Hakaniemi Market Square and Market Hall. Local starters at restaurant Graniittilinna (ingredients from Hakaniemi Market Hall). Travel by tram back to city centre, historical stories of the city centre, short walk to the traditional Finnish restaurant Lasipalatsi. The tour includes historical stories and gossip, and gives a good view of the local lifestyle. Duration 3 hrs.
Both tours are guided by Helsinki Official tour guides.
Schedules:
Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 7 pm Food Sightseeing
Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday at 2 pm Tastes of Finland
Price: Tastes of Finland 49 eur/person, Food Sightseeing 85 eur/person, prices incl. VAT
Commentary: English and Finnish, by request also Russian, German, Swedish, French
Tickets: Helsinki Expert sales points: Pohjoisesplanadi 19 at Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau and Main Railway Station, Kaivokatu.
Food Sightseeing has been nominated in the Best Nordic Oddity category at the Best of Helsinki Awards http://www.bestofhelsinki.fi > Best Nordic Oddity
Video material from the tour can be uploaded from YouTube www.youtube.com by Food Sightseeing Helsinki
Marketing Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau - The official World Design Capital in 2012!

ACCOR ENTICES INDUSTRY BACK TO THAILAND WITH GREAT RATES AND 'CASH BACK'

As things return to normal in Thailand, 36 Accor hotels and resorts throughout the country offer 'cash back' incentives to entice visitors

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, Accor is encouraging the industry to lead the trend back to Thailand, with a 'cash back' offer available both to customers and to industry on their already low trade rates. This enables guests to spend their "cash back" credits on services within the hotel such as in the restaurants or bars or on treatments in the spa.  Rates are already at historically low levels, so this 'cash back' offer is a further incentive to show confidence in Thailand at a time when the country needs support. The longer you stay, the more 'cash back' you receive at a great range of resort and city hotels right across the country.

"Accor is coordinating this campaign to help give tourism a helping hand," says Oswald Pichler – Accor's Vice President of Operations for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. "As the country regains stability, tourists will be looking to take advantage of deals for travel to locations such as Bangkok, Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai and beyond. With hotels and resorts in all key city and leisure locations, the Accor network when combined with these 'cash back' incentives provides a very strong proposition."

Available until September 30, 2010, guests staying at participating Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, all seasons or ibis hotels throughout Thailand will receive:

•          THB500  at any Pullman, MGallery and Novotel per room per night to spend in the hotel
•          THB250  at any Grand Mercure and Mercure per room per night to spend in the hotel
•          THB150  at any ibis and all seasons per room per night to spend in the hotel


Participating hotel list:

Pullman

Pullman Bangkok King Power

Pullman Khon Kaen Raja Orchid

Pullman Pattaya Aisawan

MGallery

VIE Hotel Bangkok

Grand Mercure

Grand Mercure Bangkok Asoke Residence

Grand Mercure Park Avenue

Grand Mercure Fortune Bangkok

Novotel

Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square

Novotel Bangkok Bangna

Novotel Phuket Beach Resort Panwa

Novotel Chumphon Beach Resort & Golf

Novotel Phuket Resort

Novotel Rayong Rim Pae

Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Mercure

Mercure Chiang Mai

Mercure Patong Phuket

Mercure Pattaya

Mercure Samui Buri Resort

Mercure Samui Fenix Resort

Château de Bangkok Managed by Accor

All seasons

All seasons Bangkok Siam

All seasons Bangkok Huamark

All seasons Gold Orchid Bangkok

All seasons Naiharn Phuket

All seasons Pattaya

All seasons Sathorn Bangkok

Ibis

Ibis Bangkok Nana

Ibis Bophut Samui

Ibis Patong Phuket

Ibis Pattaya

Ibis Phuket Kata

Ibis Sathorn Bangkok

Others

Bangkok Hotel Lotus Sukhumvit

Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok

Le Fenix Sukhumvit

V Villas Hua Hin

For reservations go to www.accorhotels.com and book your


Friday, June 11, 2010

Strategic takes off with new Bali flights


Image: Carlos De Oliveira/airliners.net

Strategic Airlines will tomorrow become Australia's newest international air carrier, with the first flight for the Company's new service from Perth to Bali.

More than 150 Perth passengers will board the Airbus A320 for the maiden flight to Bali tomorrow morning, marking the Airline's first foray into the international commercial market.

The Perth-Bali service, which will be running three times a week, will provide additional choice for air travel to one of the most popular destinations for Perth holiday makers.

Strategic Airlines’ Head of Commercial Damien Vasta said the new flights between Perth and Bali now offer travellers the option of a full-service product from a wholly Australian owned and operated carrier - a combination that has not been available until now.

“We’re incredibly proud to be able to offer this option to travellers and we remain firmly focussed on returning a high level of service to the skies, Mr Vasta said.

“We are providing a new choice, with an affordable, full service flight to Perth’s favourite holiday destination. The new service has already been well received by travellers with many of our initial flights being fully booked.”

Strategic is an Australian owned and operated full-service airline, with its head office located in Brisbane. For the past nine years it has operated and grown as a charter airline, but has recently expanded its domestic commercial route network. This included the launch of its commercial service from Perth to Derby, catering for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) customers in the resources sector. Strategic will also commence direct flights from both Brisbane and Melbourne to Port Hedland in August this year, providing the Pilbara with greater access to the east coast of Australia.

For further information or for ticket sales please visit www.flystrategic.com.

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